Life-Altering Stuff

Hi all!  Quickie update  :)

Life-altering things have happened this week.  I need to check and find out what and how much I’m allowed to say, but looks as though I’m on the brink of exiting homelessness for good, so keep your fingers crossed for me!

Other than that, keeping on keeping on.  Matt’s still in Scotland, and is likely to be for about another month or so.  He’s working super hard keeping up HomelessTales.com, as always, and we’re still batting around red tape and fun things that have to be settled before we can marry or anything.  Still in love and so happy about it though, and that’s going a great ways toward keeping my spirits up.

I may have stable housing soon but will still, of course, continue advocating for homelessness, on this blog and elsewhere!  In fact, I’m glad to have recently done at least a little bit for a couple of girls on the east coast who were thrown out by their parents due to their sexual orientation, and are now living in a car in freezing weather conditions.  An appeal on Twitter brought a lot of fantastic suggestions for shelters, programs, donations, and just ways to keep warm in their current situation.  The girls wish for their names and location to remain anonymous, understandably, but I wanted to give them a shout-out on the blog and let them know that there are so many people rooting for them.  I also want to thank everybody on Twitter who reached out to help them, many mere moments after I posted the plea.

So, yep yep.  Thanks to my loyal readers for sticking around!  Also, I’m in the Guardian today, apparently.  I did this interview quite a while ago, and had assumed that it wasn’t going to go to print, since I didn’t hear back for so long.  So, an extra little bonus surprise today!

So Far, So Good

Fezzik and I are now firmly ensconced in our Wal-Mart parking lot. I spent my first homeless night sleeping peacefully. No one bothered me (or if they did, I slept right through it!) Fezzik didn’t make a peep all night, no tickets/notices on the dashboards of my truck or car in the morning, so I’m assuming there was no trouble with anyone knocking on the door, or asking me to leave.

Now, if I can just have a few more weeks like that…

I am currently in the process of trying to purchase a home. I know, trying to buy a house while homeless/jobless. How novel, right? In any case, I already have a friend who would like to be my first tenant (I’m not giving out names or vital info, so he has requested that I call him “Dwight”. I assumed that this was a tribute to Dwight from The Office, but he informed me that it is, in fact, Clive Owen’s character from Sin City. Sigh. Men. Anyway, Dwight he shall be). Dwight is currently the only friend that I have told about my homeless state, I would prefer not to impose upon anyone, or be caught up in the stigma. We are working together to get the house – it is a huge, turn-of-the-century Victorian with two floors, several rooms, a double parlor, basement, attic, etc. It is beautiful – needs a little fixing up, but the bones of the house are good. I have a great love for all things old, historic, and nostalgic. It has always been my dream to buy my own old house and restore it to its former beauty, and now I finally have the chance. Because it is a fixer-upper, and because the current owners are being foreclosed on, the price is VERY affordable. I could afford the mortgage even on unemployment.

However, with my jobless/homeless state, I probably couldn’t qualify on my own. So my friend/tenant/business partner Dwight is attempting to help me out a little. The home is a short sale, however, meaning that the purchase process could take anywhere from a couple of weeks to 90 days (or even longer, depending on the bank, who has approval on the final purchase price). It’s not likely to take the full 90 days, from what the real estate agent said. The lender is Countrywide, and they are really quick about getting back to buyers, they just want to get the home off their books.

In any case, I am proof positive that there is always another approach. If one door is closed to you, look for another option. They are out there. I’m living in a parking lot and buying my dream home, a home the size of a bed-and-breakfast hotel with mostly-original architecture and features. There is always a way. Bend the rules to find it if you need to. Just don’t do anything blatantly prosecutable, haha.

This is a pretty quick, off-the-cuff post, there are a couple of errands that I need to run to get myself more settled. If anyone out there is reading this and cares (I’m not sure, this is still a really new blog!) just know that I am OK and will be back tonight or tomorrow with more homeless survival tips.

Road Trip and General Thoughts on Police

I spent my first official homeless morning watching the sun rise over the Colorado River.

It’s a beautiful day.

I know I’m not a hopeless case (Thank you, Bono).

* * * * *

So, I am officially a gypsy, a nomad, a wanderer, whatever romantic crap I need to tell myself to get through this. Sometimes that’s the only way to deal with stuff. Homelessness is serious business, but if you don’t laugh about serious business, or find the romantic/fun/noble in it, then you will just break down and cry and feel dejected and hopeless, thus wasting valuable time that could otherwise be used working towards getting back into a house. Sarcasm and humor are my weapons.

So far, towing a trailer is not as difficult as I expected, which is excellent! I’ve only taken it about 6 miles, though. I’m stopped at the local Starbucks recharging my phone and posting on my laptop. It is going to take me considerably longer to get back to Orange County than it took to get to Blythe (which was about 2 hours, 45 minutes). I’m looking at a 4-5 hour return ride. My trusty mastiff Fezzik is with me, so at least I have company. Poor thing, I think he’s mildly confused about what’s going on. But he likes the car ride and being around me, so he’s pretty happy.

Trailer smells funky (like fat, greasy man and dead animals/fish – the dude apparently did a lot of hunting and fishing) and has a lot of junk in it that I’ll have to dump today so that I can fit my own boxes and Fezzik’s crate in there. I’m less bothered by the smell and the mess than by the idea that I’ll be sleeping on the bed that my pervert, drug-addict sperm donor used to jack off in, before he blew his brains out with a Remington 12-gauge. Ew. But, c’est la vie, have to roll with the punches, Oedipal/Electral undertones aside. First thing though, I’m stripping those bed linens and putting my own blankets on.

Was stopped by a police officer 5 miles outside of Blythe for speeding. Argh. Anyway, I know that I just spent the entire last blog telling all of the homeless women out there to come off as strong and independent and fearless, for protection. However, there are times when a general air of innocence and naïveté can serve you well. Learn when those times are. One of them is while dealing with police, which is likely to happen at some point.

Police officers can be assholes, I think most people will agree. But when it boils down to it, they are usually just doing their job, have a quota to fill, and all that jazz. They could possibly be more sympathetic, it’s true. But you will not earn their sympathy if you give them attitude. Know your rights, and assert them if necessary, but always remain calm and sound appreciative, even if you aren’t.

If you are pulled over by a police officer, the first thing that you should do is roll down your window and put your hands on the frame so that they can see them. The most dangerous moment for a police officer is first approaching a vehicle. They don’t know if you are armed, so this is always when they are the most nervous. Putting your hands clearly in view so that they can see you do not have a weapon is a very reassuring gesture, and more than once a police officer has let me off with a warning based upon that alone. Don’t cry, either. Officers HATE it when women cry. Not only does it make them feel a little bit like jerks, they also feel like you’re manipulating them.

Pick your battles. If you do get a ticket, don’t argue or get angry/defensive. This will not help you. Many officers have control issues, and enter the police force at least in part so that they get to exercise that aspect of their personality often. You can always go to court to try to argue the ticket (half the time, officers don’t even show up and the ticket is automatically dismissed). If an officer catches you sleeping in your car and asks you to move along, either go (you can always find another parking lot) or, if you are parking at Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club, politely say “Thank you for your concern, officer. Wal-Mart management has given me permission to park here overnight, as it is a private parking lot and that is their national policy. I would really appreciate it if you could check with them to verify that, before you ask me to move”. It is important that you keep a sincere and humble tone here. Don’t be snarky or triumphant. Always be sure to let them know that you realize they are doing their job and are grateful for the job they do to keep the community safe. It is OK to assert your rights, but if you’re a jerk about it, they may ask you to move on, anyway. If politeness doesn’t work and they ask you to leave anyway, just do it. It’s not worth it to piss off a cop and end up in jail, or having your car impounded.

Being articulate and well-groomed always helps. It’s sad, but officers are more likely to respond well to you if you don’t seem like the stereotypical vagrant. This is unfortunate, since the less articulate/educated, more despondent homeless are the ones who really need the kindness and understanding most. But, it is the way it is. Use your intelligence and coherence to your advantage.

Naïveté will also work wonders for you. People, especially men, generally want to do whatever they can for a helpless female (even more so if you’re cute!) It’s a chivalry thing. Don’t overdo it, just learn to be a little wide-eyed and lost, ask for help/advice because you’ve never done _______ before and you don’t quite understand the process. Sometimes you can use this to explain away a traffic violation or other mistake. Or, you can use it like I did today – getting park rangers to help me hitch up the trailer to my truck, and connect the turn signal wires (because I sure as hell didn’t know how). Learn when to be independent and when to use your natural feminine wiles a little (for good, not evil!!! Don’t be Machiavellian, and try to stick with innocence and sweetness and cuteness, NOT sex – which is another post in itself… maybe I’ll go into that tomorrow, but now I have to hit the road and get back to Orange County).

First Things First – Shelter, Electricity, and Water.

When you first find out that you’re going to be homeless, there’s a lot of initial prep work to be done – figuring out how to meet your barest, most essential needs, and then going from there.

I am writing this post assuming that you have a vehicle of some kind. If you don’t, a vehicle is probably the single most important thing that you can get for yourself while homeless. Find a total junker if you need to, even if it has some issues, as long as it runs. Being homeless without any form of transportation is very difficult, and far more dangerous, never mind inconvenient. If your county has a bus system, I suppose you could utilize that to get around (although it’s very slow and occasionally full of some creepy people), but as far as shelter goes, you really need a vehicle.

The first thing that I set out to find was shelter. Obviously, the best plan of attack is to stay under the radar in stealth mode, out of homeless shelters, and off of curbsides/freeway underpasses, etc. As explained in my previous post, I have recently inherited a 30-foot travel trailer that will be sufficient to house my dog and myself. But where does one put a travel trailer? It’s illegal to just park them on most public streets, especially overnight. There are various trailer parks and campgrounds, but they eat up valuable money – at $40.00 and up per day, I might as well be paying to rent a really nice month-to-month apartment (which I would do, if it weren’t for the dog question – large dogs are rarely welcome in apartment complexes, and those that do permit them charge a hell of a lot more for them. Which puts me back at square one).

Through some dedicated Googling, I discovered that certain companies (namely, Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club) have a nationwide policy allowing RV-ers and/or truckers to park in their parking lots overnight (and sometimes for several nights). For Wal-Mart, policies vary a bit from location to location, store managers are allowed to interpret the rule loosely and set time limits and regulations if they wish. Certain locations also do not allow it due to space restrictions or city ordinances forbidding overnight parking (although technically, these parking lots are considered privately owned property, and the store has the right to allow overnight parking. But still). In any case, you can find out which Wal-Marts DON’T allow overnight parking here, as well as searching for other free campgrounds out there. If you do not have a trailer but do have a car, you still may be able to take advantage of the rule – many people do.

For safety reasons, I will not give out the exact locations that I frequent, but suffice it to say that I drove by both a local Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. There was only one trailer parked in the Sam’s Club lot (although there were several big rigs) and the store was in more of an isolated area, and a worse part of town. The Wal-Mart, on the other hand, had about 12 RVs in the lot, both in the evening and during the day (I drove back to check), so it would seem that far more people know about the Wal-Mart rule.

If you are homeless and living out of a vehicle, you may think that it’s a good idea to find some isolated spot to park, since apparently it is illegal to live/sleep in your car – go figure, right? I mean, it’s legal to park your car, and it is legal to sleep, but you can’t sleep in your own vehicle? It’s a really insane rule to me. You can eat in your car, listen to music in your car, just sit there for hours and read in your car, but sleep in it? You’ll get marked a “transient” by the police pretty darn quickly, and asked to move on. So I can understand the logic involved in trying to find somewhere obscure and isolated – you just want to sleep without the police bugging you.

However, parking somewhere isolated is also incredibly dangerous, and a good way to put yourself in harm’s way – you could be mugged, raped, or killed. Crazy and bad people seek out isolated victims. Police are also likely to be checking isolated spots – a single vehicle illegally parked on a quiet dirt road stands out. Sometimes the best place to “hide” is right out in plain sight. Think about it – how often while walking through a busy grocery store parking lot do you look around and take stock of other vehicles or people? You’re in a rush, there are cars looking for spaces, you don’t have time to notice if there’s someone sleeping in their car. You’re wrapped up in your own little world, your needs and wants, whatever errand brought you there. Before learning about this Wal-Mart rule, I had never even realized that there were RVs and trailers parked in their lot. I had been to this Wal-Mart countless amounts of times, and I’m a pretty observant person, but I had never actually NOTICED the several giant campers just sitting there. How can you miss something that huge? But I did.

There is safety in numbers. At Sam’s Club, there was only one RV in their lot. I would be far too noticeable sitting there for days or weeks at a time. However, at Wal-Mart, there are many at once, and always more coming or going, at all hours. To an extent, they all pretty much look like each other. The odds are likely that I will easily blend in and remain unnoticed there.

Having decided on Wal-Mart’s parking lot as my residence of choice, I called the store manager. I didn’t give my name, the dates that I would be arriving, or any other personal information. I just asked her what their rules and regulations were on the RV parking policy. She told me which corner I could park in. I told her I would be driving cross-country and visiting family in the area for about a week. Then I asked her if there was a limit to the number of days RVs were allowed to stay, or any other requests from the store. Obviously busy and too harried to care, she said no, just please stay in that corner of the lot with the other campers so that I wouldn’t interfere with customer parking, and left it at that. I thanked her profusely for her time.

* * * * *

Rules and courtesies for camping at Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club or a similar business, whether in an RV or a car:

1) Keep clean. No littering. No pulling out a barbecue or awning or playing frisbee with your dogs/kids in the lot. It’s tacky and trashy, not to mention dangerous (you could be hit by other vehicles in the lot). This isn’t a regular campground, it’s a place of business. Occasionally community members complain about Wal-Mart’s policy, and try to pass city ordinances forbidding RV parking. The most commonly cited complaints that they back this up with are: homeless people camping for a long time, and litter/trash. One rude camper (long-term or not) can ruin it for everyone else.

2) Keep quiet and faceless. People should be able to walk past your trailer and not even be able to tell you are there. You’re trying to stay under the radar, remember? Don’t play loud music, don’t walk around and socialize with others on the lot. You don’t want to give Wal-Mart employees, patrons, or fellow campers any reason to remember your name, face, or vehicle. You want to blend. You are just another camper on a cross-country trip, and you’ll be leaving in the morning (yeah, right). Some people don’t like Wal-Mart’s overnight parking rule on principle, even sans the loophole for the homeless. If enough people notice you specifically, there will eventually be some busybody that will complain about a homeless individual living on the lot – assholes like this exist in every community. They are the next-door neighbor that sits waiting for you to park your car just an inch too far from the curb, or for your hedge to extend just an inch too far over their fence, or for your grass to
grow just an inch too long, before they file a complaint and sic the cops on you. They don’t care about your circumstances, they don’t care if you’re clean-cut and quiet and respectful, they don’t care if you mind your own business and never bother anybody. To them, the fact that you are homeless says everything about you. How dare you continue to live an independent life, relying on yourself instead of on charity, trying to get back on your feet. To them, the only place you belong is in a homeless shelter. DO NOT GIVE THEM A REASON TO REMEMBER YOU PERSONALLY. People like this are vicious and they will pursue the issue. Just. Blend. In.

3) Give the company your business. Wal-Mart is controversial, and many people don’t like them. You personally may not like them, either. If this is the case, and you will not give them your money, fine. But go find somewhere else to park, then. The way I see it, they may very well be a Giant Evil Soulless Bastard Corporation. But – they are doing campers and the homeless a huge service. If you plan to take advantage of it, it’s only fair that you reciprocate by purchasing goods from them occasionally. Besides, it doesn’t get much cheaper than Wal-Mart, except for the 99 Cent Store (but I’ll save that for another post). If you’re homeless, it’s hard to find a more affordable place to shop.

* * * * *

The downside to parking at Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club is that there are no electric/water hookups there for RVs. If you are living out of a car, this won’t matter to you anyway. If you are living out of a trailer, you can get around the electricity thing relatively easily. The lots are well-lit, park under a light. Purchase foods that don’t need to be refrigerated. If you have a phone or laptop, make sure to charge them during the day at a Starbucks or similar location. You can them use them in the evening to watch DVDs, make phone calls, etc. Your monitor can even provide an additional source of light if the lamps in the parking lot aren’t enough.

As far as water, get your hands on several large gallon jugs of water. These can be consistently refilled via hoses or restroom sinks and used to drink, or wash in an emergency (sorry, if you’re all dainty about bottled water only and drinking tap water grosses you out, you will soon realize that you’re going to have a lot worse problems being homeless). If you’re living at Wal-Mart, try to find one that’s open 24 hours (many aren’t). You can use their restrooms. If you can’t live in the lot of a facility that’s open 24 hours, locate another nearby business that is – a gas station, another grocery store, a pharmacy… whatever. You can go there in a pinch. Try not to be one of those people that goes in the bushes or against a wall. Besides being kind of gross and unsanitary, it’s also illegal. While you may occasionally have to bend/break some rules while homeless, you want them to be the dumb and never-prosecuted ones, like sleeping in your car.

For showers, get a gym membership or find a local community center. If you can’t afford a membership, some gyms offer free one-week passes to entice new members. You can print these out at a library or Kinko’s. Use it for a week, then move on to the next gym in the area. Also, you can often start a month-to-month membership and have your sign-up fees waived just by asking. It never hurts to ask. The worst that they can say is no, right? Smaller, mom-and-pop gyms and community centers are your friend. Their fees are waaaaaay lower than superchains like Bally’s, 24-Hour Fitness, Curves, etc. I found a lesser-known, smaller chain called Planet Fitness that offers a $10/month membership, month-to-month, no contract. They have a $29 sign-up fee, but I politely asked them if there was any way it could be waived, and what do you know, they did it for me! So now I have a place to shower, and even work out if I feel like it! Call around your area or visit gym/community center websites, you can often find introductory deals and discounts in addition to guest passes.

So by this point, you have at least temporary shelter, electricity and water. Huzzah!!! See? You can do this. It’s scary and hard, but perhaps not as much as it first seems.

I’m driving 3 1/2 hours to Blythe, CA tomorrow to pick up and tow the trailer. I’m pretty terrified. I’ve never towed anything before. This is one of those times I plan to rely on the kindness of others, to show me how to hitch up 30 feet of train behind me and change lanes/turn corners without running other drivers off the road. We’ll see how this goes.

Initiation

In three days, I will be homeless.

This is not by choice (although many individuals before me have chosen this lifestyle and enjoyed the freedoms that it can offer, and if that is what works for them, kudos!) Personally, I enjoy having a permanent residence and the sense of stability and security that it gives me. I look forward to living in an actual house again. However, it is what it is – in three days, I will be homeless. There are no caveats here, no “maybe” or “unless” or “possibly I can come up with something before then”. Come Thursday, February 26, I will be making my way on the streets of Orange County as best I can, and I will be considered that most stigmatized of people – a homeless woman.

Initially, the idea of this terrified me. Here is a summary of the commentary that first ran through my head: This would never happen to me. I am not the kind of person that lives on the street. I have a life, I have friends, I have a dog, I have stable employment and residential history, references, education, skills, talents – I have worked hard all of my life to ensure stability for myself. How did this happen, HOW CAN I DO THIS?!?!?!?!

So, I cried for a few hours. I cried and I let the panic run its course. Then, I started planning.

I wonder how many other people like me are out there. People who had the stereotypical idea of a homeless man or woman, who believed that it would not, could not, happen to them. The truth is, we never know the whole story. We don’t know other people’s circumstances. You can speculate that the wino sitting outside the 7-11 begging for change is there because he’s too lazy or stupid or uneducated or selfish or mentally ill. But will we ever truly know? Look at me. I’ve worked hard for all of my adult life (and all of my adolescence), sought out a college education, worked for corporations and executives, built a life and a “secure” foundation to fall back upon. Yet, here I am. So, now what?

You may wonder how I got here. I will give you a summed-up, generic background on me:

I grew up in Orange County, CA. I got excellent grades and tested in top percentiles at school. I was considered a precocious student and skipped a grade. I taught myself to read at 2 years of age, and I read newspapers, novels, anything I could get my hands on. My family situation was never the best (I have a mentally ill parent who has rejected consistent diagnoses, medication, and advice from various friends, doctors and therapists. It all boils down to the fact that you can’t help someone who refuses to admit that they have a problem). I was subjected to various physical/mental/emotional abuse for the majority of my life, and sexual abuse from an estranged family member while a toddler. Despite all of this, I strove to rise above my personal situation. I created a mental image of who I wanted to be. I fought, and continue to fight, to live up to that image and resolve some of the less savory tendencies that I have, whether they are biological or learned from the examples that I witnessed growing up. I am proud of the progress that I have made and the life that I have built. I am proud of who I am, as well as who I am evolving into.

I started working “under the table” at 10, as I knew how to pass for older than I actually was. I got a legal work permit at 12 years old and went to work full-time in addition to schooling (how many 8th grade students do you know with two secular jobs after school lets out?) I supported my parent and younger sister from ages 12 – 18. At two points as a teenager, I was physically thrown out of the house while my parent was in the throes of a bipolar depressive episode. Both times, I was on my own for a couple of months, until said parent tracked me down through school, reported me as a runaway and sent police to retrieve me from the friends’ house where I was staying.

At 18 I left for good and got a roommate. Over the next several years, I enrolled myself into college and worked my way from entry-level, minimum-wage jobs into administrative and legal secretary positions, then onwards up to an Executive Assistant at a major corporation. For a long time, I always had at least two jobs, sometimes three. When I landed my Exec. Asst. gig, I breathed a sigh of relief. I had arrived, I could concentrate on only one job, I was earning the means to live on my own, in my own house, sans roommates. I rented a cute cottage towards the beach area and enjoyed the little life that I had built for myself. I got myself a dog. I dated. I loved. I worked. I had fun. Even with the occasional disappointment or blip that happens to everyone, life was good.

In July of 2008, my corporation had mass layoffs. The economy was beginning to crumble, and the auto industry was the first to be affected due to the skyrocketing prices of gas. Over 280 out of 500 employees were laid off, and I was among them. The company that I worked for was enormously kind and fair to each and every one of us, and compensated us well with a severance package, so I was OK for a while. I did some temp-to-hire work for an environmental engineering company for a few months, but they ended up having layoffs right before Christmas 2008 and again I was out of a job. Since then, I have been searching for employment without success. I am on extended unemployment benefits, but I prefer actual work. Salaries have been slashed by at least 20% (often more) so I have no hope of making what I used to, but that is to be expected – I’m in good company, at the moment it’s a status symbol simply to have a job at all.

In the past three months I have sent out several hundred resumés and applications, some as far away as Los Angeles and San Diego counties. Whereas it used to take me a matter of days to find employment, it is now rare for me to even receive calls for interviews – there are simply too many people out there responding to every advertisement. I do all that I can to make my application stand out, but when it comes down to it, hiring managers must sift through hundreds of resumés for every single position. My chances are severely handicapped at this point, but all I can do is forage on.

Against my better judgment, I moved out of my cottage and in with my bipolar parent at her suggestion. I figured that it would be relatively temporary and would cut my living costs dramatically while I continued to search for unemployment. For just over two months, somehow I made it work. Until two days ago. On a downward bipolar cycle, my parent attacked me and ordered me out of the house. I have been told to leave immediately, but police informed me that I could require a 30-day notice, which I waived as long as I had five days to find other arrangements.

Could I ask friends for help? Possibly. However, my closest friends have so many problems of their own right now – many of them are out of work, or live in small apartments, or have various other personal problems and I am certain that I would be a burden and an imposition on them. There is also the problem of my (very large) mastiff, who I would not dream of selfishly dragging with me into someone else’s home.

So, here I am.

Luckily for me (and my dog!), I recently inherited a truck and travel trailer. Around New Year’s Eve, my biological father committed suicide. I had not seen or had any form of contact with him in over 20 years. There was no suicide note, and it fell to me as the eldest child to divy up his assets (of which there were few) among his four surviving children (my sister and I, and two half-sisters from a second marriage, whom I had never met before). This successfully accomplished, I was left with the aforementioned truck and travel trailer, both of which have registration and insurance paid up through July.

If you are an individual in a similar situation (especially a single, vulnerable woman), I hope that by detailing my experiences in this blog, I may help you come up with tips and ideas for survival and safety for however long your present circumstances may last. Perhaps you didn’t choose for this to happen, but it is what it is. It is happening and you must stay strong and level-headed, so that you can make opportunities happen for yourself and dig yourself out of this hole.

Perhaps you’re not homeless, have never been homeless, and are currently not faced with the threat of becoming homeless. Maybe you are reading this because homelessness is a topic close to your heart, or maybe you just feel that you should cultivate some knowledge on survival skills, because with the economy the way it is right now, who knows what will happen in the future? In any event, I hope that my postings will give you something to think about and/or something to laugh about, for humor can be mined from even the most dire of circumstances.

I have just over $300 cash to my name, in addition to various personal belongings. I have three days to take my plans for the coming weeks/months and put them into motion. I have never been homeless before and I will not deny that I am afraid, but I plan to face this with humor and dignity. I can do this. I can do this without becoming a casualty or a stereotype. I can be homeless and still clean, nourished, confident, well-dressed, dry in the rain, and warm at night. I can make wise and preventive decisions that will help protect me and keep me safe in tenuous circumstances. I can and will continue to bring in revenue, interview, and locate permanent employment. I can be a tall woman with flaming red hair, a jowly and imposing Neapolitan mastiff, and a 30-foot RV in tow and still manage to remain inconspicuous and under the radar (…right?). I think that if a wussy chick like me can do all of this, then anybody can.